July 20, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
July 20, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

City of Orange Votes to Allow Maplewood Eruv to Expand Through Its Borders

At a hearing on June 6, city of Orange council members voted unanimously to join more than 20 New Jersey municipalities in favor of an ordinance permitting the construction of an eruv within its borders. Orange is home to Roni Kotel, an attorney and member of the Maplewood Jewish Center-Congregation Beth Ephraim (MJC), who spearheaded the drive to expand the Maplewood eruv through Orange.

After recently relocating his extended and growing family to Orange, a city with a population of just over 30,000, Kotel brought the idea of an eruv before the council. Located in Essex County, Orange is within walking distance of the MJC, which Kotel joined when he moved from Brooklyn to Maplewood in 2011.

Prior to casting their votes, the council had heard testimony from members of the MJC at two meetings. On May 1, Kotel made a full presentation on the issue, which was followed by a Q & A with the council. Members of the MJC were on hand for the final hearing last week. After the vote, Kotel, who had been working on the project for over a year, excitedly said, “This creates great momentum,” before immediately turning his focus to the next steps.

Kotel noted that seeing the project to fruition will entail engaging Verizon and PSE&G, as well as fundraising. The extended eruv will build on Maplewood’s existing eruv, which includes its two Orthodox synagogues, and will also include the area of the three South Orange synagogues and their surrounding neighborhoods.

In 2005, the Maplewood Township Committee permitted construction of an eruv after Jeffrey Kingsley, a member of the MJC, brought an application to the city hall. Kingsley, a realtor and resident of Maplewood, was in the forefront of the construction of the eruv in Maplewood, working tirelessly over a long time period with Verizon and PSE&G. Kingsley was happy to hear that Orange was receptive to the construction of an eruv. He wanted to publicly “thank the council in Orange for the unanimous decision, which put us one step closer to the realization of an enlarged area for an eruv to extend in our community.”

Following its sister town of Maplewood, the township of South Orange Village initiated discussions regarding constructing an eruv: The unobtrusive, yet sometimes controversial, structure was agreed to by the presiding president of the township, Bill Calabrese, and approved in 2006 by the township’s board of trustees.

While the subsequent construction of the South Orange eruv was put on hold, the Maplewood eruv was completed in 2007. Kotel is optimistically “looking forward to a Rosh Hashanah 2019 completion date,” for the expansion, but he “would love to be wrong and see it by Pesach.”

Rabbi Sholom Bogomilsky, spiritual leader of the MJC, is pleased with the latest development, stating that he’s “very excited there’s going to be a kosher eruv in parts of Orange and the MJC will be able to service the community members who live there.”

With its approval of the eruv, Orange has recognized the small but potentially growing Jewish community in its tree-lined suburban city, which offers an array of large single-family homes. Kotel emphasized that he went to the meeting prepared with about 30 signatures from non-Jewish members of his community, some of whom spoke at the meeting in support of the eruv.

Kotel praised everyone involved in the process for helping to achieve such a positive outcome. With the guidance of his fellow congregant Jeff Kingsley, Kotel’s efforts were bolstered by the support of Orange Mayor Dwayne D. Warren and others. Kotel noted that Christopher Hartwyk, business administrator of Orange, added positive insight at the June meeting when he stated, “Home values tend to improve in places that get an eruv.”

The MJC main campus at 113 Parker Avenue in Maplewood is currently under construction and will include a kosher mikvah. The eruv running through the adjoining towns offers the potential for a complete extended Orthodox community.

For further information visit www.maplewoodjewishcenter.org. To join the MJC and/or contribute to the construction of the eruv, please contact [email protected] or call 973-762-5722.

By Sharon Mark Cohen


Sharon Mark Cohen, MPA, is a seasoned genealogist and journalist who is a contributing writer at The Jewish Link.

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles